Why do men outpace women in leadership roles almost across every sector in the world? One of the characteristics of leaders is to take responsibility, against that of, losers who always tend to find excuses. And women tend to generate more excuses for not being able to deliver their career commitments. The excuses seem to be genuine, and it stems from the stereotypical norms of the society. But in career world, these are mere lack of leadership! And this is one reason why women leadership is becoming lower.
Her role as the primary care giver often impedes her career progress, and this can be attributed as one of the reasons why married women with kids are not considered for hiring – that they take leaves too often without prior intimation and most of the time the reasons being the following.
1. My kid is unwell.
2. My mother in law is hospitalised.
3. My husband is unwell or travelling.
4. My maid did not come today. ( so I have to cook and clean for the entire family)
5. My fridge / home appliances is under repair. (so when the kids come home from school, snacks need to be freshly prepared)
6. My kids school PTA / meeting etc. (and my husband has work)
Whereas a man mostly takes leave for reasons like:
1. I am Unwell. ( how can I come when I am sick)
2. I have an exam / interview or test. (I need to get this certification for my future!)
3. My mother/father is unwell.
4. I am going on a leisure tour. (everything is planned months ahead with my friends!)
Here the conflict sprouts from the deep seated stereotyping of women as care giver, and men as the bread winner of the family, and this unconscious bias, and gender stereotyping is one of the primary causes for creating barriers in women leadership abilities.
Unless women are a bit assertive and are able to give priority for her official responsibility more than her/her family’s convenience, it’s difficult to be a leader and unless men take up equal responsibility at home affairs, women in career will remain a distant dream.
I remember, once, my son who was just 1 year old , had been hospitalised with jaundice. Those days I was teaching as a guest lecturer in a nearby college. I had a scheduled class at 8am to 10am which I could have easily rescheduled just by sending an SMS to my Head of the Department. But I went from the hospital directly to the college and conducted the session and came back to the hospital. This was possible because of two reasons:
1. I insisted that I cannot shift or cancel my session because I have 60 students waiting for my class.
2. My husband also took charge till 10am by postponing his work affairs and taking a permission from his boss.
My son – the one year old, cried and made it miserable for my husband and the nurse for the first half an hour. But after that he adjusted with the care of dad. And when I came back, they were relieved. But these moments of my absence has made the kid empowered enough today to handle his own affairs without his mother. Even if he gets a fever or stomach upset, he tells me, “mom, I will handle it. You need not cancel your meetings.” As a mother, I do prioritise based on the severity of such illness by opting work from home or by doing a telephone meeting over a face to face meeting.
(Incidentally, despite doing the session, I was marked “on leave” by my HoD because I was absent for the full day. I felt upset those days, but looking back, it helped me in developing strong work ethics which helps me in my Entrepreneurship. And also workplaces today are more considerate and allows work from home and flexibility for women to manage. )
Yes, one more thing, that I have to say is I didn’t have my mother or my mother in law, as both of them are not alive, to support me, in those crucial days of parenting. Those days and even today, its only my dad, my husband or the maid who comes for my rescue. But looking back, those tough situations made me and my family empowered to handle any situation. Whereas there are women who have all these support system and still unable to take leadership!
Leadership is a hard journey and women need to be extra assertive to ensure their professionalism. Else, the workplace will treat them as losers.
#CeeVee #GenderEquality #Women #leadership
Dr. Chandra Vadhana
Founder and Chief Mentor